MANILA, Philippines – After several hours of testifying before a legislative probe on the alleged ties of former justice secretary Leila de Lima to the supposed drug lords of the New Bilibid Prison, convict Herbert Colanggo denied that he himself was a drug lord.
“Mr Colanggo, are you are drug lord?” asked 1-Pacman party-list Representative Michael Romero on Tuesday, September 20, during the House of Representatives’ probe into the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs operations inside the high-security prison when De Lima was at the helm.
Colanggo, other convicts detained at the NBP, and officials from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had earlier alleged that De Lima coddled drug lords inside the prison and even collected millions from them to raise funds for her senatorial bid.
The NBP is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Both the BuCor and the NBI are under the justice department.
De Lima was former president Benigno Aquino III’s justice secretary from 2010 until October 2015, when she resigned to focus on her senatorial campaign.
“Hindi po. Ako po’y may negosyo ng lending, magpautang. Ang kaso ko po ay robbery (I’m not a drug lord. I own a business that has to do with lending, lending debts. My case is for robbery),” said Colanggo, among the star witnesses during the probe.
Colanggo claimed that beginning October 2013, he remitted P3 million monthly to De Lima through her aides. The money supposedly came from the convicts inside the prison.
In his signed affidavit and testimony, Colanggo also said he was asked by a certain Joenel Sanchez to "sell drugs... for De Lima's plans."
Herbert Colanggo, alias “Ampang,” is among the more prominent personalities who used to be detained at the Maximim Security Compound inside NBP. He was one of the “high-profile” detainees targeted during a surprise inspection led by De Lima when she was justice secretary.
But Colanggo alleged that while several detainees, including himself, were temporarily moved to the NBI following the raid, De Lima allowed Jaybee Sebastian to stay and “strengthen” the drug operations inside.
Sebastian is supposedly among the drug lords De Lima coddled.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Colanggo (earlier named as "Colangco") of being a drug lord despite his incarceration. He was named, alongside Peter Lim and convict Peter Co, in a drug matrix Duterte presented to media early July.
Colanggo claimed that he was able to bring in beer inside Bilibid because he had the “blessing” of De Lima herself. He claimed they spoke on the phone in January 2014 and met in person in December that same year, following the Bilibid raid.
He was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Colanggo has been tagged as the leader of a notorious robbery group.
While in prison, he was apparently able to record and produce an album, which reached gold and platinum status. He even shot a music video for one of his singles inside Bilibid. – Rappler.com